Millennium Post

Deprivation tales, agrarian crisis at the root of Jat agitation

"Delhi has always been vulnerable to invasions whether it was the Mughals or the British but there was always a protective layer around the city — the Jats. "We are like the armour that stood in the way of the invaders and now we have been discarded," said Mahender Rana, a Jat agitator from Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The agitating Jats now want to bring down the "shield that protects Delhi" and have claimed to bring the Capital to a standstill if their demands are not met.

The main demand may be reservations in the OBC community but the reason many protesters claim is the spiraling agrarian distress that has plagued several parts of North India.

Many Jats have faced criticism for asking for reservations as they belong to the affluent land-owning community in Haryana.

"We used to make money from our lands and that is true. But just look at the condition of the farmers — both big and small, they have been struggling to make both ends meet. The prices of crops have gone down but our costs keep increasing and now it is not profitable to rely on agriculture," said Surender Puniya, another agitator.

Puniya owns several acres of land in Haryana and grows wheat, which he claims does not fetch him enough money to cover his input costs.

His brother Deepak said: "We spent Rs 1 lakh from our own pocket for the tube well connection and also electricity to pump the water. Then the prices of fertilizers went up, we spent Rs 4,000 per quintal and also Rs 1,200 for seeds for every bag of wheat. This all added up to a staggering amount".

With the ever-increasing pressure on land and loss of top soil productivity, many young people like Vishwender now can't depend on agriculture alone.

"We don't get enough marks to get us past the reserved category students. They take up our seats and we miss out on the admissions. We can't depend on our land anymore".

Around 36 communities along with the Jat community used to till the fields together; many Jats have claimed that the Khattar government's attempts to divide the Jats and non Jats have hit them hard.

Further, after the Muzzafarnagar violence, many Muslims who hitherto worked at Jat-owned fields now fear retribution, drying up the much-needed labour.

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